Levonte Whitfield Jr. isn't much for talking to the media. He even comes off as shy, but he's not.
The Orlando Jones High athlete stammers around questions, somewhat unsure of his answers. He thrives in the spotlight, but stick a microphone or camera in his face, and his smile disappears and he clams up.
Before Monday's live OrlandoSentinel.com webcast of Whitfield's commitment to Florida State, he held his hand to his heart and took a deep breath.
For the first time since I have known him, Levonte Whitfield Jr. was nervous. His coaches laughed. Jones High head coach Kenard Lang and his personal trainer Ricky Argro were both on the set. When Whitfield sat down under the lights, it became more real to him. People would be watching, and the decision he had taken so long to make was about to come out of his mouth.
And for a few seconds, he clammed up again. But that was it. He then pulled out the FSU cap and placed it on his head, somewhat hiding his eyes from the lights' glare and camera's stare.
He won't have to worry about that much longer. At Florida State, head coach Jimbo Fisher doesn't allow freshmen to be interviewed early during their careers.
"That's good," Whitfield said after his commitment Monday. "I am getting kind of tired of it."
That's the Levonte I know: the confident one who says whatever crosses his mind, even if it's not exactly appropriate.
Coach Lang told me one day back in 2009 about this kid.
"You've got to see him. He's just a little kid, but he's something else … a ninth-grader," I remember him saying.
When I finally saw Levonte Whitfield Jr. run the football, I had heard about the kid but had forgotten his nickname.
I was trying to remember the nickname Lang had told me they called the little man. Before I could ask, however, people at the Florida Citrus Bowl stood up, and several of them yelled, "There goes Kermit."
"My grandma called me that," Whitfield said. "When I was growing up I used to like `The Muppet Show,' and every time I'd see Kermit, I would jump around and get all excited."
That was it. The kid's nickname was Kermit, and I turned to see him dancing around trying to avoid tacklers after receiving a kickoff. It was a rather inauspicious debut in terms of yardage gained, but everyone knew there was something special about the kid.
He may not have gained much in yardage, but he did keep tacklers at bay — and the crowd on edge — as he juked and shake-and-baked, trying to get turned upfield.
Kermit probably ran 60 yards on that one play, but it went down as a "no gain" in the books. Coach Lang was in his ear afterward. Lateral movement doesn't do a football team much good. He had much to learn.
And he learned plenty. Kermit learned that speed, while well and good and his crutch upon which he had always relied, wasn't always going to get him where he needed to go. He learned to see the field, to find the blockers, to read the gaps.
It was always easy for Kermit to run a straight 100 meters down a track and hit the tape first. That's what he almost always did: hit the tape first. There was a little more to the football thing.
But that didn't take long for him to understand.
He found his blockers, ran upfield, made Lang happy and still has the fans on the edge every time he touches the football. And that's all he wants to do. Save all the cameras and the lights for recording what he does on the football field.
He really doesn't care to talk about it. Just watch the tape.
Seminoles land Georgia DE Davin Bellamy
Florida State received another commitment this past weekend when Chamblee (Ga.) High DE Davin Bellamy (6-4, 235) picked the Seminoles over Vanderbilt, as well as state schools Georgia and Georgia Tech.
Bellamy, however, said he is still going to be taking visits, and his FSU commitment seems not as strong as one might think.
He told theAtlanta Journal-Constitution: "I will be visiting schools I wasn't able to get to this summer because of distance. I want to take all my visits because you only get to go through this one time. I will never be a 17-year-old recruit again."
When asked why he chose Florida State, Bellamy told the AJC, "I just felt like I had to make a decision to go with the school that would be better for my career and help my chances of going pro. I thought Florida State could do that for me."
Plant's Paris Bostick to Georgia
Tampa Plant safety Paris Bostick committed to Georgia on Monday, making it three Plant players to commit to the Bulldogs during the past three years. Bostick picked Georgia over Arkansas.
Bostick is the third Plant player to commit to an NCAA Division I-A school for the 2013 class, joining OL Richy Klepal, who is committed to FSU; and LB Mitchell Wright, who is committed to USF.
•Hollywood Chaminade RB Myles Graham has committed to Indiana.
•UCF recently offered UF freshman Dante Fowler's brother, Donterio Fowler, a junior at St. Petersburg Northeast.
•Sanford Seminole ATH Jerlarius "E.A." Watkins has narrowed his list of colleges to five: Louisville, South Alabama, Purdue, Marshall and Utah State.
•Miramar RB D'Vontis Arnold, a late qualifier, has taken advantage of an open-scholarship opportunity at West Virginia and signed with the Mountaineers.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.